25 Secrets of Gilligan's Island
It was Lost before Lost. It's Robinson Crusoe without the uncomfortable bits. And it's still funny a half century later. Catapulted to fame just as television was transitioning to color, and made famous by decades of reruns, it is difficult to find a show more emblematic of 1960s nostalgia than Gilligan's Island. This classic show finds 7 people trapped on an uncharted desert isle with nothing but the supplies in their marooned boat and the resources of their new home.
But instead of taking a nose-dive a la Lord of the Flies, the castaways manage to not only survive, but to rise above their baser instincts to form a collaborative society. Of course plenty of the show was unrealistic. The castaways had a huge amount of luggage for the "3 hour tour" they were supposedly on, the bamboo huts somehow withstood a hurricane, and surely Gilligan should have had permanent brain damage from the numerous coconuts that fell on his head. However, this was all part of the fun. Given how grim the concept of 7 people trapped on a island could have been, the show managed to demonstrate, in a very silly way, both the reality of human flaws, and the power of collaboration. With that, let's take a look at 25 facts you probably didn't know about everyone's favorite castaways.
Did You Know . . .
1. The boat trip which stranded the castaways was originally supposed to be a "6-hour ride" rather than a "3 hour tour."
2. The original theme song for Gillgan's Island was twice as long, and a calypso style song.
3. The character of Mary Ann was originally a secretary named Bunny, who bore nearly no resemblance to the final version .
4. Russell Johnson, when auditioning for the role of The Professor, was asked to take off his shirt. Johnson refused to do so, but still got the part.
5. Ginger was not a movie star in the original script, and was also a secretary.
6. The lagoon set was drained and used a parking lot when it was not in use.
7. A skirt worn by Mary Ann was auctioned off for over $20,000 at a Beverly Hills auction house.
8. During the shows first season, the Professor and Mary Ann were left out of the theme song and just referred to as "the rest." Bob Denver managed to get the studio executives to pay for a complete reshooting and rescoring of the theme song in order to make sure Russell Johnson and Dawn Wells received full credit, by threatening to disallow use of his name in the titles of the theme song.
9. The coconut cups the cast drank from were originally made of actual coconuts, but we're replaced when the cups let liquid soak through the shells and looked terrible on camera.
10. Natalie Schafer (Mrs. Howell) was 13 years older than her on screen husband, and refused to tell the cast or producers her real age.
11. The footage of the S.S. Minnow leaving Hawaii shows a flag at half mast on the shore. This is because it was filmed on the day of John F. Kennedy's assassination.
12. The show couldn't be filmed at rush hour because the lagoon set was too close to a freeway, which caused microphones to pick up traffic noises.
13. Special props had to be built for the show, including a pedal powered bamboo car, and a record player made out of the ship's wheel.
14. Tina Louise (Ginger) disagreed extensively with the producers over her portrayal of the character. She later claimed the show ruined her career as a serious actress.
15. The Skipper's real name, Jonas Grumby, is only mentioned twice in the entire series.
16. The Minnow, the shipwrecked vessel that stranded the castaways, was named for the head of the FCC who was disliked by the series creator.
17. The favorite scenes of the cast were dream sequences, a device used to take the castaways off the island.
18. Natalie Schaffer decided to film the pilot because it meant a free trip to Hawaii.
19. Dawn Wells who played Mary Ann was the only cast member who made money from the shows nearly continuous syndication. The others were paid a flat salary.
20. Alan Hale was filming in Utah when he got a call offering him a chance to audition for the role of Skipper. He rode a horse to the highway, the hitchhiked to an airport, where he flew to Hollywood to screen test.
21. The show's cast bought homes in LA because the show was slated to have a 4th season. Gilligan's Island was cancelled at the last minute to make room for the drama Gunsmoke.
22. Although Gilligan's first name is never mentioned, the creator said he liked the name "Willie" for the character
23. The final episode of the series left the castaways on the island, ending the series with a big question mark.
24. The Coast Guard occasionally received letters from people asking for the rescue of Castaways, apparently not realizing the show was a sitcom.
25. When Alan Hale Jr. had cancer, he found out there was a small boy in the hospital who also had cancer, who also loved Gilligan's Island. Alan Hale Jr. dressed up as the Skipper and went to comfort the terminally ill child.
Do you have any memories of Gilligan's Island? Are you a fan? Or can you just not get over the fact that the Professor was so supposed to be SO smart, but he couldn't even build a raft? Leave your Gilligan memories in the comments below.